Laing O'Rourke uses Docusign to help accelerate bushfire recovery

Digital agreements speed up rebuilding and clean up efforts

Laing O’Rourke is a global engineering and construction company with a large presence and long history in Australia’s construction market, delivering major projects across buildings, roads, rail, resources and defence sectors. The company is on a mission to become the recognised leader for innovation and excellence in the construction sector, and invests heavily in its digital engineering and modular construction capabilities to deliver innovative solutions to its clients.

As the scale and complexity of the projects that Laing O’Rourke delivers increases, so too does the scale and complexity of its supply chain. Each year, commercial engagement with its supply chain involves thousands of agreements and other documents that each require signing by various parties. Physically signing each of these documents amounts to a substantial administrative burden for Laing O’Rourke and its supply chain, and long turnaround times – often up to a month – can slow project delivery down.

While leading the NSW Bushfire Recovery Clean-Up after the devastating Australian bushfire season of 2019/20, Laing O’Rourke implemented Docusign to speed up delivery of works and better support the bushfire-affected communities on behalf of the NSW Government. After the success with Docusign on this unique project, Laing O’Rourke expanded its use across the rest of its Australian operations as part of its ongoing digital transformation.

Using digital agreements to accelerate bushfire recovery

The Australian bushfire season of 2019/20 was amongst the most catastrophic on record, tragically resulting in the loss of life and destruction over millions of hectares of land. In the early aftermath of the disaster, Laing O’Rourke was appointed by the NSW Government as Managing Contractor for the NSW Bushfire Recovery Clean-Up. The project involved the clean-up of more than 2,800 damaged properties across the state so far.

Rapid delivery of works and high engagement with local businesses were key requirements of the project to bring forward rebuilding efforts and stimulate the economies of the affected communities.

“The project team set themselves some ambitious productivity targets, particularly on turnaround times for key procurement and commercial activities. The vast area that the project was spread over and the high number of local suppliers that were going to be involved meant that any processes requiring physical signatures were not ideal. We needed to do as much as we could digitally,” Lewis Cowper, IT Project Manager for Strategic Projects, explained.

Docusign played a key role in enabling Laing O’Rourke to meet its productivity targets on the project and, ultimately, enable clean-up works to commence sooner. Further, at the conclusion of work packages, Docusign enabled faster release of payments to local suppliers, thereby providing much-needed stimulus to local economies faster.

“With Docusign we were able to quickly and easily digitise many of our existing processes. This meant that we could move as swiftly as we needed to on this unique project while still retaining the high level of project governance and control that our clients expect from us. We have workflows that would have averaged about a month to complete now consistently being done in under a week.”

Not just for crises, digital agreements also improved everyday processes

Laing O’Rourke’s success with Docusign on the NSW Bushfire Recovery Clean-Up led the organisation to expand its use of the application to the rest of its projects in Australia. In addition to faster turnaround times, project teams across their business valued the enhanced visibility that Docusign gives all signing parties.

“Another major benefit is the enhanced visibility that all parties have through a signing workflow. In the past, if a subcontractor signed an agreement first and returned it to us to then send off to our head office for countersigning, too often weeks would pass until they receive a fully executed copy back. This puts them in a difficult position if they want to start gearing up and committing costs to deliver their scope under the subcontract. Docusign really helps us address this issue,” says Lewis.

Docusign has been a valuable addition to Laing O’Rourke’s digital transformation. It has helped the organisation to deliver complex projects like the NSW Bushfire Recovery Clean-Up, shaved weeks off the turnaround times for common commercial activities and promotes enhanced collaboration with its dynamic supply chain.

“Docusign is a tool that you can gain value from right away. The core functionality is super intuitive and new users can be up and running in minutes. It’s also not a massive investment from a cost perspective, so it can be a quick win for teams who want to prove the value of digital transformation,”  Lewis Cowper, IT Project Manager for Strategic Projects at Laing O’Rourke.